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Business Acumen: More Than Just Business Knowledge

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Developing business acumen can be a challenging task, but it's crucial for the overall success of any business. The ability to understand and analyze financial reports, market trends, and customer behavior is essential for making informed decisions that can positively impact the company's bottom line.

By developing business acumen, individuals can become valuable assets to their organizations and make meaningful contributions to their company's growth and success.

I have been fortunate to work for incredible global companies and engage with their leaders at all levels. Executives frequently ask me:

"How do we develop business acumen in leaders and all employees?
"If employees understand how the business makes money, would that lead to measurable results?"

I answer the first question below, but the answer to the second question is "YES!"

Developing business acumen among all employees creates a level playing field. It enables everyone in the organization to comprehend the decisions made by leaders.

Business acumen is a crucial skill and competency for employees and leaders to cultivate. Employees, particularly those in leadership positions, make decisions daily that influence the organization's operations, reputation, and profitability.


Business Acumen

Before developing business acumen, understanding what the term means is essential.

The Financial Times states business acumen is the "keenness and speed in understanding and deciding on a business situation."

In simpler terms, business acumen is related to understanding how businesses operate.

If you have strong business acumen, you understand and can explain:

  • How does the organization make money?

  • How does the organization operate?

  • Why does the organization operate as it does?

  • What is your contribution and role in the business?

  • What are the thought processes and strategies that go into making decisions about the organization?


Not everyone has a natural aptitude for business acumen. It is a competency that can be acquired through informal on-the-job and formal training for employees and leaders.

To develop business acumen, it's essential to have a deep understanding of the industry, stay up-to-date with relevant news and developments, and seek out mentorship and learning opportunities. It's also crucial to have a strong sense of curiosity and a willingness to learn and adapt to changing circumstances.

Designing, developing, and deploying business acumen training is both an art and a science. In my experience, business acumen training can take two forms: professorial lectures or realistic simulations that balance learning objectives with organizational goals.

Now, I love professors. I am one. I teach at a university in their School of Business. Sometimes, things can get boring, so EDGE partnered with the leading business simulation company Celemi to offer a practical, not academic, solution.

Celemi offers in-person and virtual business simulations that simplify complex information and make it easily accessible. The simulations help employees gain a better understanding of how things fit together in your organization.

Business Acumen

Celemi's training is flexible and can be customized to fit specific departments or used as a standalone training for anyone in your company. Additionally, it can be integrated into existing leadership programs to enhance the training experience.

The Celemi simulations introduce finance perspectives from various industries for different employee and management levels and explore business issues.

Celemi's Apples & Oranges™ is the world's bestselling business simulation that offers a bird's-eye view of how an organization functions. Participants can closely examine their daily actions and decisions and relate them to their company's profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. The simulation involves grouping participants into teams that run a company, each competing against other teams. Each team must complete the financial statements every simulated year to determine their success or failure. The program has a steep learning curve, but with their new insight, participants can develop ideas for improving profitability.

Celemi and EDGE develop business acumen for everyone in the organization. And, with many remote workers, we now offer a digital version of Celemi's Apples & Oranges™ that is so much fun, and the knowledge transfer is just as good.

Want to learn to build business acumen in your teams? Reach out to EDGE today.

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